Dreamwold: The Farm of Thomas W. Lawson
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Thomas W. Lawson (text) and T. E. Marr (photographs)
German Agricultural Society Souvenir Album
Dims: H 23 ¾” x W 60” x D 26”
Thomas W. Lawson created this album for the delegates of the German Agricultural Society to commemorate their visit to his farm on June 23, 1903. 100 copies were produced; this is the only known copy to exist.
According to the 1903 issue of The Country Gentlemen, the group of German agricultural experts and farmers were keen to understand America’s agricultural methods and farming machinery. They traveled across the country to 20 different states visiting farming operations. At the German government’s suggestion, they came to Scituate to see Thomas W. Lawson’s “famous farm and country place.” A representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the German Consul accompanied them here.
Lawson was a well-known financier and one of the richest men in America at the turn of the 20th century. He built his extravagant farm in Scituate in 1901-02 and named it “Dreamwold.” The extensive and grand estate was widely written about and applauded. It was described in detail in an article in Stables and Farm Buildings: A Special Number of The Architectural Review September, 1902 (see Additional Information below).
You can get more information on the life of Thomas W. Lawson and learn about Lawson Tower and the Lawson Gates on our Explore page.
The German Agricultural Society was greeted with a display American and German flags intertwined on the entrance gates to Dreamwold and then given a tour of the purpose-built farm buildings and the animals housed there, including: the cow barn, poultry and bantam houses, the dovecote, brooding mare stables, the stallion stable, the foaling stable, the horse hospital, dog kennels, the firehouse and the carriage building. They were treated to a display of horses and horsemanship in the grand riding academy, then luncheon under tents erected for the event and later horse racing on the Dreamwold track.
According to the Boston Daily newspaper, Lawson was informed on a Friday evening that the visit would be the following Tuesday. He promptly dictated a description of the farm and a message to his visitors and enlisted the well-known Boston photographer Thomas Edgar Marr, known as T. E. Marr, to produce the souvenir album for his German guests. Marr had been collaborating with Lawson to create a detailed photographic record of the Dreamworld estate, producing several volumes of photographs, some of which are in the Society’s collections (for an example see Collections Highlight – The Lawson Collection Dreamwold Volume 7 Stables and Driveways). T.E. Marr made and mounted his 8” x 10” photographs along with two prints of paintings that Lawson commissioned of his horses. One print is by Alexander Pope Jr. (1849-1924), a Boston artist known for his sporting paintings and sculpture. Marr worked for 2 days and nights to have the albums completed in time for the arrival of the guests.
In 2018 the Northeast Document Conservation Center conserved and digitized the album with Community Preservation Act funds generously granted by the town of Scituate. At some point the album had been disassembled and the cover removed. Treatment of the album pages included removing acidic mats and tape, cleaning, de-acidification and mending tears with Japanese paper and starch paste. A custom archival box was fitted to store the pages.
This Scituate Historical Society Collections Highlight connects with the following Massachusetts State Curriculum Frameworks:
History and Social Science Framework
Explain the relationship between natural resources and industries and jobs in a particular location (e.g., fishing, shipbuilding, farming, trading, mining, lumbering, manufacturing).
Arts and Communication Services | Radio and Television Broadcasting, Technical Knowledge and Skills | Fundamentals of Photography
Explain concepts fundamental to photography and composition.